Need Advice -- New Basement Construction


Old 02-23-13, 02:56 PM
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Need Advice -- New Basement Construction

My wife and I are preparing to build in Davie County, NC on a sloped hay field. We will have a three sided basement (front of house and two sides; back will be wood framed as it is at the grade).

We have a contractor but are lining up all the jobs for the house, and can't decide which method to build the basement walls.

Here are our options:

1) Block filled with concrete and rebar
2) Poured concrete
3) ICFs
4) Superior Walls

We are building on a pretty tight budget, so cost is a large factor, but we are willing to spend more for a legitimately better product.

Our understanding is that each of these options will need waterproofing (tar spray and dimple sheets) even though the Superior Walls claim to be totally waterproof. Also, that filled block and poured concrete will require a vapor barrier, insulation, and framing, which is included with ICFs and Superior Walls.

If we are on a tight budget, is filled/reinforced block with a good waterproofing system our best bet or is another of the systems worth the increased price?

Thanks for your help!
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Old 02-23-13, 03:22 PM
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In in north central NC and went with Superior Walls for my house. My basement has them (Superior) on three sides and the back is stick built. Now, 11+ years in the Superior walls have been problem free with no leaks.

In my case the choice for Superior Walls was driven as much by the labor issue with a block wall. There are no contractors in my area that form and pour foundation walls and ICF was not readily accepted/know by my local inspectors. When I built my house construction was busy so getting reliable results with local masons to do block walls was less than certain. Superior offered a solution that was more structured and controllable.


I built my house and when I say I built my house. I built my house. Things were booming and I had Superior contracted for my basement/foundation walls and was eight weeks out for delivery. Lazily I worked clearing the site and grading. Then Sept 11 happened and all construction came to a halt. Superior called to confirm that I was continuing with construction... "yes". "Great, since so many projects have been put on hold can we move you up to Thursday?". Great I thought and asked "Thursday the what?" and they replied "Thursday the day after tomorrow". I had not even started digging the hole and had to call in a favor and bring in a Cat 953 to quickly dig the hole for me. The wall installation went off without a hitch and my house got a head start putting me ahead of schedule.
Old 02-23-13, 08:32 PM
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Thanks Pilot Dane. What waterproofing system did you use with your basement?
Old 02-23-13, 08:50 PM
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Hi nc and welcome to the forum.
Basements are now being built to be part of the home, but they are perhaps the most difficult area to build properly. From landscaping to control the surface water to underground drainage to get the rest, you are at the right stage. As for the foundation itself, now is not the time to tighten the budget. You can't come back two years from now and make changes. I can't add a lot on which choice is best, but the link I'll provide will give you some of the results for different approaches, plus a better understanding of moisture. I hope it helps.

Old 02-23-13, 09:52 PM
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My vote would be ICF. However, I would never attach drywall directly to the ICF, just use it for build the foundation. Then install wood studs for electrical and insulation. I live in a cold area.

My last choice would be block.
Old 02-24-13, 07:16 AM
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My Superior walls have no additional waterproof coating. Their inherent waterproofness was a big bonus and made it easy to apply a stone veneer directly to the exterior. In my case the veneer extends below ground level so the plain concrete is not visible. If I did a block or other foundation requiring waterproofing you have to plan the transition location between veneer and waterproofing pretty well since the stone veneer can't be applied to the waterproofing which can leave a band that is below grade but above the waterproofing that is susceptible to water intrusion.

ICF is a option. When I looked into it for my place it was more expensive than Superior. Protecting it from insects and rodents was a bit of a concern. The bugs and critters don't eat it but they do like to burrow and bore through it. And the exterior needs some type of protective finish. It can't support the weight of real stone veneer but it will support synthetic stone. But synthetic stone is more expensive than real and in my mind why have fake when real is less expensive and more durable. I have seen one house foundation veneered with synthetic and you can see the line around the house where years of lawnmower and line trimmer wear have worn through the pretty surface of the fake stone revealing the concrete underneath.
Old 02-24-13, 07:24 AM
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12" block is the norm for basements around here and if done correctly it preforms well.... but if it isn't done right, all kind of moisture issues will rear their ugly head.
Old 02-24-13, 04:06 PM
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waterproofing is the last line of defense for a basement wall. If at all possible make sure the backfill will allow easy drainage to daylight which should not be to hard since you are building on a hill. They rarely use concrete block for foundations in my area but I contend that if they would stop backfilling with the heavy clay that came out of the hole they would not have the problems that they see. A couple of inches of gravel cover on your drain tile is typically to little to late if you have a soil that does not allow water to flow down to the drain.

No matter what wall you build or what waterproofing you use do yourself a favor and get an extra load of stone (not road mix it will have fines in it and impede flow) and place it along the foundation. In my experience the stone keeps the water further away from your wall as it flows to the drains, is cheaper than the dimpled sheets and stays clear of silt longer. Just my two cents on the subject.

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